Recruitment and retention of blood donors in four Canadian cities: an analysis of the role of community and social networks
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BACKGROUND: This study approaches the decision to donate blood as a dynamic process involving interplay between blood donors' personal motives, donors' social contexts, and the donor recruitment and retention activities of blood collection agencies. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Data were gathered from four blood donation clinics using in-depth interviews with Canadian Blood Services employees, donors, and nondonors in 25 organizations participating in Life Link, a donor recruitment program that supports organizations to educate employees about the benefits of blood donation. Further data were obtained from ethnographic observations of blood collection and donor recruitment activities. RESULTS: Thematic analysis resulted in three umbrella themes: leveraging social networks, embedding the clinic in the community, and donating blood and social reciprocity. Donor recruitment activities at all four clinics enhanced awareness of blood donation in the workplace by using experienced donors to motivate their coworkers in making a first-time donation. Clinic employees reported varying success in improving awareness of blood donation in the broader community, in part because of varying employee engagement in community-wide activities and celebrations. Altruistic motives were mentioned by experienced donors, who also identified a desire to reciprocate to their community as another strong motive. CONCLUSION: This study contextualizes donor recruitment and retention as involving activities that tie blood donation to meaningful aspects of donors' social networks and community. The findings point to the need for further analyses of the institutional dimensions of blood donation to develop effective strategies beyond appeals to altruism.
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